The Power of Prayer

This Lenten season we have been lingering inside the Lord’s Prayer, reflecting each week in worship and in our Lenten Devotional on a different verse of the prayer. We have asked questions about names and kingdoms, bread and forgiveness, temptation and power. This is the gift of the Lord’s Prayer, that it contains within it so many of the essentials of a life of faith and the human experience.

There are a few other prayers in the Christian “cannon” that have found universal appeal for generations beyond the biblical witness – the Prayer of St. Francis, the Serenity Prayer, the Prayer of St. Patrick. This coming Sunday morning following worship, we will explore some of these prayers as well as some other prayer traditions that generations of faithful people have found comforting and compelling.

I have a habit of keeping printed copies of prayers that I find meaningful, and tend to collect them on the bulletin board in my office. They include a blessing prayer that we prayed in church just a few weeks before Joshua, Owen and I moved to Egypt; a prayer that I stumbled upon in the summer of 2020 that has helped me ask God for help in being a faithful participant in conversations on racism and privilege; and a prayer/poem by Wendell Berry that gives me encouragement when I am faced with a challenge.

But the one that I appreciate the most in the Season of Lent is a short prayer by German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I find it has the same essential and universal language of struggle and hope, faith and confidence that we find in the Lord’s Prayer and those other classic and beloved prayers.

May it be a helpful and hopeful prayer for each of us as we move into these holiest of days of Lent.

God of the day and of the night, in me there is darkness, but with you there is light.
I am alone, but you will not leave me.
I am weak, but you will come to my help.
I am restless, but you are my peace.
I am in haste, but you are the God of infinite patience.
I am confused and lost, but you are eternal wisdom and you direct my path.
Now and forever. Amen.

-       Dietrich Bonhoeffer